onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003


March 17th, 2008 |

Downhall Under Fives

Downhall Under Fives planning application to return to their old site behind Ferndale Road comes before the District Council committee on March 27th – and it’s recommended for refusal. You can download the full agenda here, but here are the officers reasons:

It is proposed that this Committee RESOLVES to REFUSE the application for the following reasons:-

1. The Rochford District Replacement Local Plan (2006) shows the site to be within the Metropolitan Green Belt. The proposal is considered to be inappropriate development contrary to Policy R1 of the Local Plan.

Within the Green Belt, as defined in this policy, planning permission will not be given, except in very special circumstances, for the construction of new buildings or for the change of use or extension of existing buildings (other than reasonable extensions to existing buildings, as defined in Policies R2 and R5 of the Local Plan).

The proposed new building would develop a currently open and undeveloped site reducing the openness of the area to the detriment of the character and appearance of the Metropolitan Green Belt.

The applicant has failed to demonstrate any very special circumstances associated with the development that would outweigh the normal presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The resulting building would harm the character and appearance of the open and undeveloped nature of the site.

2. The proposal fails to provide sufficient off-street car parking within the site to serve the proposed use. The use proposed would require the provision of 6 No. car parking spaces for the staff and a further eight considered reasonable for the 25 potential children attending the pre-school to accord with standard D1 to the Council’s Supplementary Planning Document 5 Vehicle Parking Standards (January 2007).

If allowed, the proposal would result in congestion and overspill car parking in surrounding residential streets, together with indiscriminate parking within the highway in the immediate vicinity of the premises to the detriment of highway safety.

71 Responses to “Downhall Under Fives”

  1. 1
    Hayley Mitchell:

    I totally, 100% SUPPORT Downhall Under Fives preschool in their bid to move back to the site where they sucessfully ran the preschool for 19 years in Ferndale Road. Tina Frye and the staff at Downhall Under Fives do an amazing job with my daughter and all the other children who attend and I believe it is an essential foundation and feed into Downhall Primary School. Their intention is to make right the land that has stood rotting for the past two years and to build a building that is a compliment to the surroundings taking the environment and the local residents into consideration. If they do not get planning permission then Im worried that the preschool may have to close as the temporary accomodation that they are in will eventually become unaffordable, as they are non profit making charity run preschool they will eventually run at a loss there and may have to close. This will be a terrible loss for the local community and their children. I beleive in Downhall Under Fives Preschool and they have my full support.

  2. 2
    Lindsay Frend:

    My daughter attended Downhall Under Fives when it was situated at the Scout Hut, and I don’t ever remember there being a parking problem, as most parents walked to the Scout Hut. My youngest daughter now attends Downhall Under Fives, and I for one, would not be talking my car to drop her off, as it is only a short walk from my house.
    I am aware that a resident of that street posted a letter through his neighbours doors (saying all sorts of negative things), that was factually incorrect…’s a shame that the person who felt so strongly about the preschool, didn’t bother to consult with us first about our plans, before spreading rumours.
    What people are forgeting here, is that Downhall Under Fives spent 19 years at the Scout Hut, before it had to be demolished due to it being unsafe. It’s not like we’ve come along and decided to build on a piece of land that has never been built on before.
    I, for one, will be at the Council meeting next Thursday, and I sincerely hope that this reccomendation for refusal is overturned.

  3. 3

    It is another example of this council not giving full consideration to all it’s residents.

    If there has previously been a building here before, and from what I can gather for more than 2 decades, why is there a problems with putting a building back? Nobody seemed to mind about the landscape before it was built, otherwise it wouldn’t have been built. I really see no reason why, providing the building is within the footprint of the old building why it can’t go through.

    The fact that we are also talking about a non-profit charity, and are being treated in such a way by the council is absolutely disgusting.

  4. 4
    Mike Nobes:

    This recommendation for refusal is ridiculous. If it had been a house builder wanting to build more flats or houses, they would have had an easier ride. The greenbelt excuse only counts when it suits the planners and council. Its a pre-school, for gods sake, not a comprehensive school. Its a disgrace, just wait until some builder wants to build a housing development on greenbelt land, then we will see what happens.

  5. 5
    Jeff Bloomfield:

    I just wanted to say it’s really great to see supporting comments for the Pre-Schools application, my wife is the applicant, but in name only, the true applicants are Downhall Under Fives, a well established, well run, friendly, affordable Pre-School who’s only aim is to provide a foundation stage of education together with social skills and friendship for children. I don’t think anybody can appreciate the amount of time, effort, and sheer hard work my wife , the other committee members and the staff have put in to keep the school running since it left the site in December 2006. Back in December 2006 I helped along with other parents load the schools belongings onto trucks which was a very sad sight. Through no fault of their own and with very short notice the pre-school had been made homeless. During the 19 years the school ran from Ferndale Open space, it had always been with the permission of RDC, without complaint from RDC, their landlords, or residents. Had the scout hut not fallen into such a state of disrepair, they would still be there, paying rent, keeping the site clean and tidy. All the school has ever wanted was to return to Ferndale, they have asked for nothing different, a like for like size building, I’d like to say like for like looking building, but for those who new the old hut, this wouldn’t be possible, nothing could look that run down and shabby, and like for like hours of operation. No one is in this for money, this is about caring for our children and providing them with a good grounding in life, too many people are quick to assume that things are only ever about personal gain, profit etc, this couldn’t be further from the facts with the school, all the committee are voluntary and the school is a non profit making registered charity. All they have asked for since December 2006 is to be given the chance to go back to how things were, safe in the knowledge that they can’t be given notice to quit, with a home of their own knowing the school can run for at least another 20 years, is this too much to ask for? these are our children that are being educated and looked after, our future. I have written this as a parent who’s son attended the school until December 2006 and whose daughter will start attending later this year, not as the applicants husband.

  6. 6
    Canterbury Close Resident:

    How on earth can this be reccomended for refusal? My eldest daughter went there and I used to take her on the back of my bicycle. There used to be a few cars in the roadway – but they were there for a matter of minutes at most!

    As I look around the locality I see many buildings getting planning permission that really should not be permitted – or perhaps they simply do not apply and hope to get away with it? There are many of those around where I live too!!

    I agree with and support all that is said above too.

  7. 7
    Sharon Hancock:

    Absolutely absurd to have this application refused when firstly there has been a building on that site for the last 20 years and the playschool only want to do like for like. Secondly, it is a sad state of affairs when applicationbs for huge housing estates and supermarkets get pushed through so easily and yet to have a small attractive building for a playschool to educate our children is refused. Whoever makes these decisions is crazy. Surely education should be one of the highest priorities on the councils list at the moment.

  8. 8
    Elaine Crust:

    I have been working at Downhall Under Fives for the past 9 years and we offer a very friendly and extremely well run pre-school that is affordable for all! and I just worry that if our well attended group closes where are the children going to go to pre-school as all our local groups are full. And I fill very sad as it will be splitting up lots of children from the friends that they have made and the warmth and trust they have with all the teachers.

  9. 9

    I pray that Downhall Under Fives will get the permissions they are applying for.

    Should they not, however, may I let it be known that I would be glad to enter into discussions to explore whether our recently-converted (ie. multipurpose) church building at St Nicholas, Church Road, Rawreth might be of any value for providing a home for the pre-school.

    Paul (Rector of Rawreth)

  10. 10
    Mike Nobes:

    There are local elections coming up in May and if refusal is confirmed it will not go down too well with many. many residents. Maybe it is time for the Council and Planning department to reconsider and come to their senses before they lose too many seats. This will be a big issue in the elections. I still cant fathom why they have recommended refusal?

  11. 11
    a matthews:

    I also despair of this reccomendation to refuse permission . I hope and indeed pray that the whole council vote for the peoples wish and not hide behind an officers interpretation of the planning rules.This is indeed a project which we should be proud of as a greater community.
    It would not have anything to do with any potential use of the non existent mixed use projected buildings on the asda gravel carpark!!! as it was suggested in the application that one of the uses for same could be a nursery school , or is that thought too devious even for asda .

  12. 12
    Mike Nobes:

    I’m sure they could be much more devious than that! Lets hope the Council come to their senses and I agree, it is a project that we should be celebrating not trying to stop. If there was ever a special case for building on ‘greenbelt land’ this is it, not huge housing developments but something that will benefit people with young children and the children themselves. Any Tory Councillors want to take this up? We know you log on to the website so there is no hiding place!!


  13. 13

    Mike, please remember that no District Councillor – whether Tory, Lib Dem or Independent – can engage in debate on any application in advance of the meeting. We have to keep an open mind, and not ‘fetter our discretion’ if we want to take part in the proceedings. Sorry to sound a bit po-faced, but that’s how it is.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Mike Nobes:

    Apologies, however……

  16. 16
    Jane Lydford:

    It is really important that this planning permission be granted. The application is for a replacement building in its original location.
    The old Scout Hut used by the pre-school in the past, was an unsafe eye sore in stark contrast to the beautiful surroundings on green belt land.

    The planning application was to apply for permission to build a new replacement building in its original location sensitively designed for its surroundings. It has been designed specifically to meet the needs of the children that attend the Charity that Down Hall Under Fives is.

    I regret not responding to the original application. I was naive in thinking that the planning office would use common sense when considering this application.

    I would also like to point out that this planning application is being made by a Charity (that Down Hall Under 5’s is).
    Planning applications cost money.

    Please don’t refuse this planning application, it would cost Down Hall Under 5’s yet more money that as a Non profit making Charity we need for our Children. An Appeal would cost more money (that would have been spent on the Children)

    Not every body can drive I have a medical disability that prevents me from doing so but I have a pair of legs and I can walk. Currently I am totally reliant on lifts to and from Hullbridge from my father.

    I feel sorry for the children who have missed out and those that will miss out, like my youngest daughter. When her big sister (at Down Hall Under 5’s now) starts school, she will be old enough to start going to Down Hall Under Fives but she wont be able to go. We just wont be able to do both.

    We only want to bring the Down Hall Under 5’s to its original home, so that the future 19+ years worth of children can benefit from the pre-school, in the same way that the 19 years worth of children who attended it previously have done.

  17. 17
    Mr R & Mrs D Horton:

    As the parents of a child who has benefited from attending the Downhall Under Fives pre-school, we are appalled by the recommendation that this application be refused.

    The proposal is for the re-instatement of a use which, save for a break of two years, has prevailed at the site for a period of almost twenty one years. Furthermore, the building which the pre-school wish to erect will occupy the same footprint as the old. It is farcical to now suggest that these elements would represent an ‘inappropriate’ form of development. Clearly that has not been the view for the last twenty years or so.

    Had the former scout hut not fallen in to such a poor state of repair, then the pre-school would still be at the site today doing what it has done for the last twenty years – educating local children and keeping the area clean and tidy.

    While we understand the need for protecting the greenbelt, we feel that the circumstances of the case merit a policy departure. The site is on the very fringe of the greenbelt and directly adjoins a residential zone. It has also become an eyesore which, other than as a dog toilet or a haven for anti-social behaviour, provides the community with little real benefit. Why the Council would prefer these uses to the community benefits that the site has previously provided is beyond comprehension.

    The recommendation anticipates car parking problems, yet to the best of my knowledge there have not been any significant parking issues during the past twenty years. It’s really quite simple, give local people local facilities and you will find that the vast majority will leave the car at home.

    In recent years there has been a substantial amount of development taking place in Rayleigh which has resulted in the creation of a significant number of new households. This increase in housing has not been matched by improvements to the local infrastructure and it is therefore absolutely vital that the pre-school be allowed to return the site.

    Unlike the formative years of children, Council policies are not sacred. When it is warranted the community has a right to expect that the policies will be relaxed. If that does not happen then maybe there is a need for the community to look at changing the policy makers.

  18. 18
    Tina Frye:

    I have managed Downhall Under Fives Pre-school for almost 20 years, nearly all that time at the Scout Hut off Ferndale Road in Rayleigh.For that period I beleive we have provided an invaluable service to the families of the Downhall area. Not only offering Early Years educationbut also preparing through play and structured activities the children for their first days at school.
    As a Committee run group all the efforts of the staff and the Committee are concentrated on the children of the Downhall area who receive the benefit of our time and expertise.
    With the existing and planned housing development in this area there will be even greater demand for pre-school places. With the lack of other suitable premises in the area this request is vital to our community.

  19. 19

    It’s a pity the council aren’t as strict about parking requirements when developing new housing developments.

    Could the concern about parking become more valid because of the number of new houses that have been built recently? More people may want to travel further distances to take their kids to the school, so more cars trying to park in the residential road?

    Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with the council’s position on this, and think the facility should be built. But just because parents in the past may have not been too intrusive at drop-off and collection time, things may change. I’ve seen the chaos at other schools and playgroups.

    Are any of the developers that have built in the area recently going to contribute anything to this project? It’s a valid part of the local infrastructure that needs strengthening to cope with the added housing.

  20. 20
    Lorraine Mancktelow:

    I have helped out at Downhall under 5’s for a year now. My daughter used to attend when it was in Ferndale Road and now my son goes. Both have thrived there. It is a friendly well run preschool with great staff and obviously the outfit itself is not in questions but the premises are! What a shameful waste it would be to lose Downhall under 5’s because they want to replace what was a shabby run down building with a newer one. It stood for nearly 20 years, and so, why now, when they want to improve the outlook are they being stopped? The number of housing estates and blocks of flats that I’ve seen go up in Rayleigh in just a few years has amazed me and I’d hate to see more of the same taking the place of what should have been Downhall under 5’s in a few years time (particularly if there are not enough preschools to accommodate the rising number of children).

  21. 21
    downhall park way resident:

    My son attended Downhall under 5’s, for a period of 2 years, and has just recently started Downhall school.
    it was a fantastic pre-school offering a great range of activities and care, every session he would come out with a huge smile on his face.
    It has most certainly prepared him very well for starting school.

    He has made lots of friends with other children at the pre-school who obviously also live in the Downhall area and it has been reassuring for him to know that these children will also be joining him at Downhall school, if the pre-school has to close then there is no other affordable group in the Downhall area, and children both current and new will be forced to go further a field where they will not have the advantage of starting school with children they know.

    Also as comitte member of the pre-school while my child attended i have seen the group struggle with one set back after another for the last couple of years in connection with this issue. But despite the upheaval of having to move to 2 different premises and further problems caused due to relocation the care and efficeny of the staff has always remained very proffesional, with the children always being top of their priority.

    I have witnessed the amount of voluntary hard work and effort that has been ploughed into trying to get the pre-school back to where it was for the last 19 years, i am at a loss to understand the councils decision on this, it is just replacing the existing building with one the same that has already been there for the last 19 years. An affordable pre-school is an essential for the area.

    I sincerely hope this can be turned around for the future benefit of children in this area.

  22. 22
    Mike Nobes:

    I can understand the feelings of the residents of Ferndale Road regarding the the traffic the school will pose, however there are always things that can be done to minimise the intrusion of a residential area. Maybe someone would be able to volunteer to be around at drop-off and collect times, ensuring that parents really are being considerate to residents. Both the children and the residents need some kind of comfort that both their needs are being looked after. The children would certainly benefit from having their old ‘home’ back again. It is the Planning department and Council that concern me the most, hiding behind the greenbelt excuse, because it suits them at this time. This is not sensitive handling of the situation, it is being used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. The planning committee will have a job on their hands sorting this one out and I can imagine there will be a few Councillors pondering hard and long over this decision. I think this is too close to call. I just hope that before they vote, they exhaust all avenues to keep both sides happy, it just calls for a little creative thinking.

  23. 23
    Hayley Mitchell:

    As a parent with one child already at Downhall Under Fives, and my youngest about to start in September, I for one will look forward to walking my child to the preschool if it returns to Ferndale Road. I hate getting in the car and driving a short distance (but too far to walk) into Hullbridge. I want to do my bit for the environment and by walking I can.. I know that many other parents feel this way too. If however there are any parents that will be driving, it would be at most for 20 mins after 9am and then again at midday, whilst this may be an inconvenience to some residents any noise wouldnt be outside the residents houses but outside the preschool building. If Downhall Under Fives does not get planning permission to set up a permanant home, I dont know where my youngest child will go as I cannot afford the other more expensive preschools in the area and I know that they are full too! the community needs Downhall Under Fives to continue its fantastic sucessful schooling to provide essential places for the preschoolers

  24. 24

    I wonder if the Tory’s have had a secret meeting and have decided that they actually don’t want to win the Elections on the first of May. Let’s face it, how many things have they done in recent years that are far from being election winners? I am starting to lose count.

    Who was the original owners of the “scouthut”, was it owned by the scouts association or the council? If it was the council, they should be brought to task for letting one of their buildings become so run down. If the Scouts owned it, being an organisation for the benefit of children they should have known better than let it get into that state in the first place. There must be legislation somewhere that permits the building of a premises on the footprint of a previous building?

    For those that don’t like the idea of the pre-school returning to Ferndale Road, I will say to you what the pro-asda group said to me when the superstore got it’s approval – “If you don’t like the idea of it going in near where you live – then move!”

  25. 25
    Claire Smart:

    Both my children went to Downhall under fives and benifitted from the very high level of childcare, which I am sure has made the transistion from pre-school to school a very smooth one, the staff are excellent with an extremely low turnover, something very rare in childcare, this despite them not having a permanent home since they were last located in the exact spot they propose now.
    I was on the committee myself and when I joined was amazed by the time and effort the other members put in to make this pre-school a very well run, caring and professional outfit, every decision is carefully considered for the childrens welfare.
    As for the parking issue, the majority of the parents walked and those that did have to drive were always very considerate of the surrounding houses.
    It seem ludicrous to me that permission may be denied on the grounds of green belt, as we only want to replace what was there, the last time I walked down there it was a shame to see it in such a mess, the path has been left completeley churned up and overgrown, we could change this back into a valuable and well cared for site providing excellent and affordable childcare to the local community.

  26. 26
    Jane Lydford:

    I’ve read through the DEVELOPMENT CONTROL COMMITTEE – ‘27th March 2008’ recommendations several times and I wanted to respond to some specific points made, in the hope that some of the individuals who ultimately get to decide to approve or refuse the planning application made on behalf of Downhall Under fives – may read this.

    In Schedule item 1 1.20 of the MATERIAL PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS – Green Belt issue it states:

    “The fact that the applicants have been able to continue in other locations disproves any argument that is essential for them to be granted permission on this site.”

    Our daughter began attending Down Hall Under Fives’s since June 2007 when she was 2 years and 5 months old. The Pre-School was recommended to us by members of my family, whose own children had attended the Pre-School at the Scout Hut (The oldest of whom is now 21 years old). After making enquires about the Pre-School, my husband and I discovered that the Pre-School had been forced to relocate.

    Our understanding was and still is that the staff & committee members of Downhall Under Fives are in the process of seeking planning permission to return to Ferndale Open space. If we had known that such permission would be denied we probably would have re-considered registering at the Pre-School because attendance for us is totally reliant on lifts by my father.

    Before registering our daughter at the Pre-School we went to Ferndale Open space and we saw the eye sore that the Scout Hut had become, unsafe and fenced off. We also saw the beauty of its surroundings. We had just moved away from London because we believed that here is a better place to live. Visiting the open space made me feel that this really was a wonderful place in its self but as a parent I was thrilled to bits that our daughter would have the opportunity to attend the Pre-School there.

    Everything that my husband and I have read on the planning application and relevant documentations demonstrate that the Pre-School does not want to extend or encroach upon the open space itself. The planning application is to rebuild where the Scout Hut was. One concern that was expressed was whether or not the children’s outdoor play area would restrict the walking of dogs. (If there was room for dog walking when the pre-school was at the Scout Hut then surely there will be will be room for dog walking as the replacement building is the same footprint.)

    I was also surprised to read that of the 4 letters response to the public consultation there has been a request for a traffic survey and analysis on how much carbon the additional vehicles will produce.

    The whole point of rebuilding the Pre-School where it originally was is that this is where the children and families live.

    Has anyone actually considered the residents of Thorpedene Avenue, Hullbridge and its adjoining roads? The residents of those roads are unnecessarily affected by the unnecessary vehicles commuting from Down Hall Pre-School catchment area.

    There is a huge campaign to reduce our ‘Carbon footprints’ and ways we can all work to reduce it. There are schemes aiming to get children walking to school, good for the environment and keeping children fit & healthy. It therefore seems absolutely ludicrous and contradictory that families with children attending both a local school and the Pre-School are expected to…
    Walk their children to school – then walk back home so that they can get in their cars- so that they can drive to Hullbridge and drop off their children at the Pre-School – then get back into their cars and drive home. A couple of hours later get back into their cars, drive to Hullbridge, collect their children from the Pre-School and drive home. Then walk back to the school to pick up the older siblings and walk back home.

    Therefore the point made in Schedule item 1 – 1:22 is clearly inaccurate. I refer specifically to:
    “Without such provision there would clearly be problems on congestion in residential streets near the site”.
    Our family lives in one of the ‘streets near the site’. Families like us who can walk to the Pre-School will walk if the building application were to be approved. In the supporting documentation from the playgroup it states that only 6 children will not be within walking difference of the replacement building. As the pre-School is open 9.20-12.20 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday) and 1.20-3.50 (Wednesdays only) many residents (and their cars) will be at work and will not return until the pre-School is closed.

    Hullbridge roads mentioned previously do suffer congestion because families with children that do not live in Hullbridge are being forced to drive there. If the planned application made by the Non-profit making charity that Downhall Under Fives is to build a replacement building (in exactly the same place as before) were approved then congestion experienced in that part of Hullbridge would not happen because we can walk. Better for us, better for the environment, better for our cars (ie less wear) but most importantly best for our young children aged 2 years 5 months to 5 years.

    Downhall Under Fives is a Non-Profit making Charity. It does not want to encroach upon the Ferndale Open Space. The pre-School wants to return home to where it was originally located within its original footprint. It wants to go back to the wonderful place that Ferndale Road open space is. The pre-School’s purpose built replacement building designed specifically to fulfil the needs of young children and to sensitively and complement its fantastic surroundings on its outside.

    It is a wonderful location that should be available to share with young children, which will enable them to truly appreciate the wild life. By educating them in this way to value greenbelt land and the need therefore to protect and preserving green belt land in the future.

    We teach our children to share things that are precious; I wish that everyone could be that unselfish.

    Yours Sincerely

    Jane Lydford

  27. 27
    Mike Nobes:

    Jane, A great post. If this application gets turned down the residents will have lost all faith in both the planners and the planning committee. It is astonishing that this recommendation was even considered. I too moved from London in the belief that Rayleigh was a great place to live and bring up children. It still is but the planners seem more interested in building flats and houses than being family friendly, and if they continue to do so we will be left in a soulless town! The planners are certainly making headway there already.

  28. 28
    Jeff Bloomfield:

    Having read through the many comments on this site, it strikes me that there are a lot of people who support Downhall’s application and those people may have been a little naive as to how planning applications work (most people are unless they have made one!) on the Officers recomendation it states 2 letters of support, and 4 with objections, not everyone would have know to write a letter of support, it would probably only occur to people to write objections, so how about all those who support the application now email their views to the Officer who looked at the application, surely he can produce an addendum for the Development Control Committee to consider as well as his report. The email address is just copy and paste your comments from above, and then email them to Mr Stranks asking that he prodcue an addendum, I’ve been told this has been possible before, so why not for Downhall Under Fives.

  29. 29
    Jeff Bloomfield:

    Having read through the many comments on this site, it strikes me that there are a lot of people who support Downhall’s application and those people may have been a little naive as to how planning applications work (most people are unless they have made one!) on the Officers recomendation it states 2 letters of support, and 4 with objections, not everyone would have know to write a letter of support, it would probably only occur to people to write objections, so how about all those who support the application now email their views to the Officer who looked at the application, surely he can produce an addendum for the Development Control Committee to consider as well as his report. The email address is just copy and paste your comments from above, and then email them to Mr Stranks asking that he prodcue an addendum, I’ve been told this has been possible before, so why not for Downhall Under Fives.

  30. 30
    Kerry Lutterloch:

    I am supporting 100% Downhall Under Fives moving back to Ferndale. Both of my children attended Downhall Under Fives at the Scout Hut and I never experienced any problems with the parking or with any of the residents it that area.
    I found it an excellent pre-school, both my children loved their time there.
    I would love to see the pre-school move back to Ferndale as I know a lot of parents who are having
    trouble getting to the premises they are currently at, and would find it much easier if it was at Ferndale.
    There are a lot of new children coming into the Downhall road area and the only pre-schools avaliable are already full or to expensive. With it based at Ferndale it will be helping the enviroment as most of the parents will be walking and not having to take their cars.
    The staff at Downhall Under Fives are so dedicated to the Pre-school and the children in there care it would be a shame to see it close after all the hard work they have put into making this pre-school a success.

  31. 31
    Mary Priest:

    I would like to add my support to the Downhall Under Fives planning application. In fact I find it hard to believe that it is up for refusal. I am a resident of Hullbridge Road, where I would add I have lived all my life, and cannot see how this can possibly affect the area in any way. In fact, I can only see how it could enhance it with the mess that has been the field and approach since the demolition of the original Scout Hut. What better use than to give our under fives a permanent home. There has been precious little thought given to this area for them! The children going on to Downhall School should be given the opportunity to have their pre school in the same area and within walking distance. If there was a building there before, how can it possibly be a problem to replace it?
    My feeling is it would NOT look out of place – the Scout Hut never did – in fact what better place to put it? As for the parking issue, what rubbish. As I have previously said I have lived here ever since (and before!) the Scout Hut was built and there has never been a parking problem in our area.
    My grandchildren attended Downhall Under Fives, and I can only praise the work they do most highly. A non profit making organisation, the staff work tirelessly to make sure the children are happy, and well prepared for school, something we must all wish for our future generations.
    For goodness sake see sense Rochford District Council, please do not refuse the application

  32. 32
    Bob Priest:

    This part of Rayleigh is being developed more and more, surely we need to ensure we have the facilities available for all the residents, and does this not include pre school children?

    Does Rochford Council think that pre school nurseries should all be run privately, and not in the efficient and non profit making way the Downhall Under Fives is run?

    Go on Rochford Council, see sense for once and approve this application.

  33. 33
    Elaine Priest:

    I would just like to echo the comments made by Jane Lyford.

    The arguments for the object are as I understand them; 1) that the building would not fit in with the landscape and 2) potential parking issues.

    1) This piece of land / building has been used for many years for scouting / play-group use. I fail to understand why this planning permission is potentially up for refusual when it is a like-for-like replacement in terms of footings, and an aesthetic enhancement to the original structure.

    2) In my opinion given that a structure was already in place and in use there should be no incremental parking issues – in fact going on the basis of one resident (Mary Priest) there have never been any parking issues as a result of the scout / play-group activities.

    On this basis I believe the council should approve this application to enable the children of the community to have a smooth transition from the home to the school environment via the facilities provided by the Downhall under fives pre-school.

  34. 34
    Denise Linton:

    I have worked at downhall under fives for eight enjoyable years, the pre school has always been run as a non profit and charitable organisation,helping each child to enjoy their first steps into education ,this is acheived through play and enjoyment for the local children,it will be a great loss to the community if the pre school ceases to exist,if the planning permission is not granted where will the local children go in the future?

  35. 35
    Hannah's Grandad:

    One of the grounds of refusal was an increased use of cars in the area with parking problems.

    If the Ferndale Road site was used my Grandchildren could walk to the pre-school. At present attendance at Downhall Under Fives involves taking children by car to Hullbridge, with parking problems in Thorpedene Avenue and contributing to congestion in the Hullbridge area.

    Downhall Under Fives does an excellent job and I hope that permission be granted for this excellent community resource.

  36. 36
    Maria Buckley:

    I have worked at Downhall Under Fives for two years now but before becoming a member of staff my three children all attended the pre school at the scout hut. They all loved their time there and talk with fond memories of the staff and all the fun they had. More often than not I walked but I found parking never a problem.

    Over the past few years thousands of houses have been built without additional amenities being introduced, especially for children. Not everyone can afford to send their children to a privately run nursery, so where will the children, who will end up going to Down Hall School, be able to go?

    Opposite where I live a beautiful house is being knocked down to have seven flats built upon it and another four bedroom house!!! This is not a problem but a pre-school being built, where it already has been situated, is.

    It would be a tragedy if we had to cease to run our pre-school because we cannot move back to our original premises.

  37. 37







  38. 38
    Peggy Sharp:

    My Grandaughter attends the Downhall pre-school at present sited at Thorpedene Avenue Hullbridge. My husband drives her to and from there each time she attends. This amounts to about 12 miles per day causing environmental pollution. There is no parking facility at the Church hall in Thorpedene Avenue. So all parking is roadside, to the inconvence of the residents. If the planning permission went ahead my daughter (who is unable to drive due to medical reasons) would be able to walk to the pre-school premises which would be a, healthier b, expedient and c, environmentally friendly.

    My daughter will also have problems when her eldest child starts school and her youngest starts pre-school, as she will be trying to get to two different places with a very short time difference. Which would obviously be less of a problem if the council gave planning permission. I can only speak for the problems my daughter has to encounter and I am sure she is not the only parent with problems.

    I know that the site is on green belt land but I also know that planning permission has been given in the past to green belt sites that were proven to have been built on in the distant past and this is not so distant.

  39. 39
    Mike Nobes:

    Lets hope that the Planning Committee vote on the merits of having the pre-school back where it belongs ….For too long our Council has been run not on the way their constituents want them to vote but how they have been told to vote by their superiors. …. If refusal is confirmed it will be a sad day for Rayleigh and the young children of Rayleigh…..

  40. 40
    Andrew Smart:

    As a local resident I am 100% behind the application of Downhall Under fives at the site they propose.

  41. 41
    Mark Lydford:

    I am in 100% favour of bringing a local community resource back to the local community. My daughter attends the pre-school which she thoroughly enjoys each week.

    It would be good to bring the playgroup back into the local community it serves and has served for the best part of 2 decades, on the site it has used (and would still be using today through no fault of it’s own) for the best part of the last 2 decades.

    Our council seems to not think twice about building new homes in the area, but to provide these new ( and existing) residents with the services and infrastructure they require and deserve seems to be an immense task for them to achieve.

    Maybe with the return of the playgroup to its home the council can start giving back to the community which it has helped grow.

    Fingers crossed.

  42. 42
    Andy and Jackie Dawbarn:

    We support the planning application 100% and despair at the refusal. As suggested above, we have copied this post to Mike Stranks at Rochford District Council.

    Our three children all went to Downhall Under Fives and loved every minute! It is a terrific and much needed ‘local’ facility — and it is a great shame that it is currently located out of the area.

    Downhall Under Fives spent 19 years at the Scout Hut, before it had to be demolished due to it being unsafe. In that time, there were few, if any, complaints about ‘increased traffic levels’ and/or ‘buildings on green belt land’.

    Why are these issues suddenly in vogue?! Is it because of the MASSIVE amount of development which has taken place along Rawreth Lane area in those 19 years? It is nothing short of a disgrace that the Council has seen fit to allow all this development -the sad irony being that much of it has involved green belt land – but has seemingly made little or no provision for the additional amenities required to support those extra houses.

    Unfortunately Downhall Under Fives do not have the huge resources of the large supermarket chains etc to lobby and make our points but, make no mistake, there is considerable local support for this project and very, very little opposition to it.

    Others have posted very eloquently on the issues but we would like to remind the Councillors of the following:

    Parking/Traffic Concerns

    (a) the many un-necessary car journeys to and from Hullbridge currently being made as a direct result of the current arrangements;

    (b) many residents of Ferndale Avenue actively support the application; and,

    (c) there IS, in fact, adequate parking at the bottom of Ferndale Avenue, near to the Hillbridge Road, for the few residents who would still have to/choose to drive their childen to the Pre-School, if it returned ‘home';

    Green Belt Land/Building Issues

    (i) The application is for a ‘like-for-like’ replacement building – not a ‘new build'; and,

    (ii) there is adequate provision in the relevant planning law to ‘allow’ this replacement building to be erected. The Council can use these provisions if they choose — and we implore them to do so now!

    Can anybody think of a more deserving cause – a well established, well run, friendly, affordable, local Pre-School who’s only aim is to provide a foundation stage of education together with social skills and friendship for children.

  43. 43
    Rawreth Lane Resident:

    I have sent the following to Mike Stranks at RDC:

    I am writing to support the Downhall Under Fives application to return to their original location at the site of what was the 7th Rayleigh Scout Group Headquarters, off Ferndale Road.

    I am very concerned that the report submitted to the Councillors recommending refusal of this application doesn’t give a true and accurate record of the history of the playgroup or indeed the Scout Building in this open space.

    The majority of children that will go to this site are within easy walking distance. Therefore the comments regarding the requirement of 14 car parking spaces in this instance are nonsense. I was involved with the Scout Group that used this site for many years. During that time the playgroup met during the day; a Beaver Colony, two Cub Packs & a Scout Troop met out of school hours. There were NO complaints from local residents during all this time.

    To state that ‘The proposed new building would develop a currently open and undeveloped site reducing the openness of the area to the detriment of the character and appearance of the Metropolitan Green Belt’ is very unfair in this instance & doesn’t give a true record of the history of the site.

    Surely it is better that this space is used as it was previously, except that, there would now be a new purpose built building as opposed to a Scout Headquarters in need of repair. The unsafe state of the building was the reason the Playgroup were forced to leave this location. The building was subsequently demolished because it was uneconomic to repair.

    I hope the Councillors will be made aware of the facts regarding this application & permit the replacement of the building on the site, thus allowing the return of the Downhall Under Fives to the area from which their name derived and original home from which they were forced to leave by circumstances beyond their control.

  44. 44
    Kate Macaree:

    This is absolutely unbelievable! Has Rochford District Council gone mad? It seems green belt land is absolutely fine to build upon as long as it is financially worthwhile. A community facility for our local children? Is it an earner? Nah, lets refuse it. The comments about car parking are ludicrous. Do they not get the fact that most people live within spitting distance of Ferndale Road? An awful lot of us wouldn’t have to drive IF it was kept in the locality. As someone else has posted, no-one gives a damn about the residents of Thorpedene where the playschool currently is! I have one child currently at Downhall and another due to start in September and I will be absolutely livid if there is forced closure due to lack of premises. My little boy absolutely loves Downhall under fives, the staff are brilliant. I thought councils had a responsibility to provide such facilities for its residents? This just leaves me absolutely despondent about our lack of political power and fuels my despair about the state of democracy in our country these days.

  45. 45
    Carole Rand (PSLA):

    Downhall Under Fives.

    My name is Carole Rand and as a Pre-school Learning Alliance Development Officer I have been offering support to this group for more than five years.
    This is a well established committee run pre-school group which has been running for many years serving the needs of the local community. This group had been running out of scout hut in Ferndale Rd Rayleigh but the scout hut was too expensive to repair and therefore the owners The Crouch valley District Executive of the Scouts gave Downhall under Fives notice to quit. They have then had premises problems ongoing for the last three years, resulting in them moving to temporary premises twice during that time. They are a Rayleigh based group currently running out of a hall in Hullbridge. The Parents and committee are very supportive of the group and continue to take their children there with the hopeful understanding that they will be moving back to Rayleigh one day.
    The staff are dedicated, very experienced and well qualified. Their Ofsted inspection in October 2006 gave them an overall satisfactory grade, however, I feel currently this is not a true reflection of the standard of care and education being delivered at Downhall.
    They have raised £12,000 towards a second hand demountable and have been in touch with Gemma Melvin Essex Early Years funding Office, when she was in post, to identify any grants that they could apply for.
    Sue Roberts, Essex Early Years Children’s Community Development Officer, has also been supporting this group and Harriet Hill is aware of the group’s situation.
    The numbers are healthy and they have a waiting list. There is a need for this provision in the area.


    Carole Rand
    Pre-school learning Alliance Development Officer.

  46. 46
    Lindsay Frend:

    It’s not just the parents, committee, and staff who feel strongly about this……….

    For the attention of Shaun Scrutton and S. Smith

    Downhall Under Fives.

    My name is Carole Rand and as a Pre-school Learning Alliance Development Officer I have been offering support to this group for more than five years.
    This is a well established committee run pre-school group which has been running for many years serving the needs of the local community. This group had been running out of scout hut in Ferndale Rd Rayleigh but the scout hut was too expensive to repair and therefore the owners The Crouch valley District Executive of the Scouts gave Downhall under Fives notice to quit. They have then had premises problems ongoing for the last three years, resulting in them moving to temporary premises twice during that time. They are a Rayleigh based group currently running out of a hall in Hullbridge. The Parents and committee are very supportive of the group and continue to take their children there with the hopeful understanding that they will be moving back to Rayleigh one day.
    The staff are dedicated, very experienced and well qualified. Their Ofsted inspection in October 2006 gave them an overall satisfactory grade, however, I feel currently this is not a true reflection of the standard of care and education being delivered at Downhall.
    They have raised £12,000 towards a second hand demountable and have been in touch with Gemma Melvin Essex Early Years funding Office, when she was in post, to identify any grants that they could apply for.
    Sue Roberts, Essex Early Years Children’s Community Development Officer, has also been supporting this group and Harriet Hill is aware of the group’s situation.
    The numbers are healthy and they have a waiting list. There is a need for this provision in the area.


    Carole Rand
    Pre-school learning Alliance Development Officer.
    Tel:07772 862365

  47. 47
    Richard Fuller:

    The Downhall Under 5s represents everything that is good about a local community that acts as just that. There is no request for the organisation from the council, there is not cost to anyone and it is a totally open organisation support young children for the area. Whilst they are not asking for funding, what they are asking for is that the council support the initiative and don’t put up new obstructions to an old solution. The issue of putting a hut where there was one before should not be viewed as illegal use of green belt, it is a welcome re-use of brown belt.

    Parking should not be an issue for anyone (having used it myself in previous years I know this); if people are complaining then that complaint should be taken in context of parking issues for other people across the area. Having a few cars appear in the area for 10 minutes twice a day is not a realistic argument against planning permission.

    At the end of the day, the Council have the opportunity to make the right decision and ensure a facility for the community by the community is given all the support that it deserves.

  48. 48
    Steven and Joanna Kirkham:

    We can hardly believe that planning permission has been refused – both of our children have attended the pre-school – our youngest is still there. The staff provided an invaluable service to the local community, which when located in Ferndale Rd we walked to. The idea that parking is a problem is ridiculous – most parents walked. Have any members of the committe who made this decision been to the site?? I do appreciate however that IF we were a group trying to build houses at a huge profit to the council we would be there already! And where do you propose the children from the new family sized homes on Rawreth lane will attended pre-school or do you just not care? Downhall Under Fives was located at the site in Ferndale for 19 years before we were forced into temporary accomodation – we were there with permission – let us go back to our home – the building proposed is not an eyesore the site will be used for an important service and our children will continue to get the start to their education that they not only deserve but are entitled to. I will be attending the meeting on Thursday – this is important and planning should be passed.

  49. 49
    Debbie Ransome:

    My son goes to Downhall Under Fives, as did my daughter and I am devastated to hear of the councils decision to refuse planning permission. When I picked up my son today, we were told the playschool is in danger of closing as they have nowhere else to go. The staff have worked tirelessly to raise enough money to get back ‘home’ as they call it, and now the dream is in sight, the council selfishly decide that rules are rules and that the building cannot go ahead. Where are our children supposed to go if this fantastic pre-school closes? I really don’t understand why this is a problem, the playschool stood on that site for 20 years and no-one had any problems with it,so why is it such a problem now?? I urge you to reconsider, for the sake of all the children happily attending Downhall Under Fives. I really hope this has nothing to do with keeping that piece of land free for housing, but then, it’s green belt isn’t it, if we’re not allowed on there, no-one else will be, will they??

  50. 50
    Paul Oakley:

    I would like to state my complete support for the planning application for Downhall Under 5s Pre-School. I believe this it be a great asset to the local community and also a just use of the land in the local area. I quite frankly find this amazing that the application has been declined considering the previous history that Downhall has with the land and the size and nature of the building being suggested.

    Having a little boy myself (2 and a half), I would like to think that Rayleigh would be a place that can nurture young childern in their early development, because at the end of the day these will be the young men and women that will eventually make a difference in the local area. I feel that sometimes the whole picture of planning consideration is not taken into account when making a decision and hope that the local planners can look again at a very worth while project!


    Paul Oakley

  51. 51
    Louise & Neil Goddard:

    We fully support the planning application made by the pre-school to enable it to return to their original premises. The pre-school is a non-profit making organisation (i.e. a charity) that is there to serve the local community, however has been forced to temporarily relocate to Hullbridge. If it was able to return to the Ferndale Road site, many parents would be able to walk their children to pre-school rather than being forced to drive. Therefore the number of parents parking in the locality would be small. Also has anyone noticed the number of builders parking there for the development on the Hullbridge Road????

    Our daughter started at the school in November 2006, and the staff there have been fantastic. We would be very disappointed if the facility was forced to close.

    Please seriously consider this planning proposal – our son is due to start there in September.and if these plans are not approved and the school is forced to close we do not know our son would now get a place at another pre-school as they have such long waiting lists.

  52. 52
    Vicki Croft:

    I would like to give my full support to Downhall Under 5’s. Both my children went to the pre-school and enjoyed every moment of it. I could not have wished for a better start to their education.

    I used to live opposite the entrance to the footpath, and can not understand how anyone can say they had an issue with parking. Most people walked or if there were a few cars is was for a very short period of time. I certainly had no issues at all and do not feel that this is a justifiable reason for a decline in application.

    I only hope the council come to their senses and approve this application and allow Downhall under 5’s to return to it’s home.

  53. 53
    Ferndale Road Resident:

    As a resident of Ferndale Road, I would welcome the return of the pre-school. I have lived near the entrance to the footpath for as long as the pre-school has been running and have never had an issue with parked vehicles.
    Our council doesn’t think twice about building new homes in the area, but to provide these new (and existing) residents with the services and infrastructure they require seems to be an immense task for them to achieve.
    I know that the site is on green belt land but I also know that planning permission has been given in the past to green belt sites.

  54. 54
    Brian Dawbarn:

    Whilst this proposed property is in a green belt area, there has been a scout hut on this site for many years used by both the scouts and Downhall under 5’s. The proposed development merely seeks to replace a condemned building with a building fit for purpose.

    Rather than being detrimental to the local community it will provide a much needed facility in Rayleigh. Local councillors regularly state that we need to develop the local infrastructure e.g. schools and health services as well as roads. This is a real opportunity to improve the local infrastructure and provide a much needed facility in Rayleigh without any increased detrimental effect to the environment. Parking is not an issue here given the number of pre-school children who live within walking distance.

  55. 55
    Concerned at the 'can't do' mentality:

    I am amazed at the apparent barriers put in the way of such a grand scheme to help care for and educate our kids.
    My wife and I invest a lot of our time in this area and I am quite annoyed at the apparent barriers being put in the way here.
    Why can’t our institutions work with organisations like Downhall U5’s to actually help them do what they want and need for our kids, instead of investing time and Council money dreaming up technical reasons ‘why not’ ?
    Given the scale of this facility, and having visited and driven past the site on quite a few occasions, there can’t really be any issues that can’t be worked through and resolved ? Surely ????

  56. 56

    Just to clarify for Debbie and others – permission has NOT been refused yet.

    The council planning officers are RECOMMENDING refusal because they don’t think it complies with council policies.

    It’s up to councillors to vote on this tomorrow night.

  57. 57
    Richard and Jackie Southwood:

    My son Joe attended Downhall under 5’s which was vital in preparing him for Primary School.

    I find it hard to believe that the council would not give permission to such a beneficial facility for the local community. They have granted permission for houses and shops to be built over the local area and now need to provide something back to the already over populated area.

    Having Dowhall under 5’s on the doorstep of the community would allow more people to walk their children instead of having to drive to Hullbridge and park outside in a built up residential area. This would surely be less of a safety issue than it currently is with there being no option for the parents to drive their children to the playschool.

    Downhall under 5’s is a vital part of this area and I hope the council make the right decision this time.

  58. 58
    Michelle Jackson:

    Both my children went to Downhall Under Fives and they loved it! I never had a problem with getting them there in the morning even when they were tired, or there was something good on the telly! I strongly believe this was down to the GREAT staff. They are extremely friendly, approachable, and actually care about the children they are trying to teach both about life as well as educating them. Just read their Ofsted reports! If this pre-school was to close, and that is NOT an idle threat it really could be a possibility, then it would be a massive loss to all who have attended past and present. Where would our children go? That is also without mentioning the loyal staff that would lose their jobs! It was always our intention to try to get our own building and with the Scout Hut falling in to disrepair, we had been fundraising to get our new building. We have been extremely lucky not to have lost any children so far in our moves but that was due to the fact that our parents believed that we would always be able to return to our home. We have not taken any children from the Hullbridge area as this was always just temporary accommodation.
    I can’t believe that the planning department has proposed to refuse this application. I used to see these refusals in the paper and think that they were doing a great job for us but after reading all the background in respect of Downhall Under Fives application, I am starting to doubt that this may be the case. Has anyone from the planning department been down to look at the site recently? Have they seen how it has been left since the demolition of the dilapidated Scout Hut? If they had then they would see that this is an eyesore and a new building would only improve the view. As has been mentioned numerous times before on these replies, the plans submitted follow the same footprint as what was previously there. The building would also be fenced in and be surrounded by trees as previous, and the pathway would be made good. The only difference to how the site has been for the past 19 years worth of use is that the building would be turned round by 180 degrees so that the front door would be at the other end to allow us disabled access without even more additional cost.
    When we were given notice to quit the Scout Hut, and again after we had to leave the Cricket Pavilion in Rawreth lane, we exhausted all the possibilities of new premises. I wouldn’t mind but certain people/departments within Rochford District Council have always fully known our intentions. We have been open from the start. There are no community buildings in the Downhall area even though there has been all the additional housing built over the last few years. We approached ASDA as recommended by Rochford District Council, who are supposed to be providing a ‘Community Hall’ and apart from the fact that this was being built on the first floor(!!) they wouldn’t consider us using it as this would provide a ‘conflict of interest’ when they try to market and let their awaited provision for a private day nursery business.
    I understand that we need to protect our Greenbelt land, but with all the additional family housing that has been agreed and built in the area, where are all those young children supposed to go to pre-school? Not everyone can afford to send their children to private daycare or pay for additional sessions with high price tags. Our name is DOWNHALL Under Fives as this is the area that we have always serviced.
    I was one of the parents that had to drive to the pre-school as I live over the other side of Rayleigh, but I never saw a problem with the parking. There are plenty of areas that you can park without being in anyone’s way. Yes it does make the road is slightly busier for residents but this is for around 20 minutes in the morning and again at pick up time and this is only for the parents that have to drive. Believe it or not, most of us do like to walk if we can! Please also remember this is school term times only so this is not of 52 weeks of the year only around 38-40 weeks.
    Please come to your senses Rochford District Council and AGREE this application.

  59. 59
    Karen Coles:

    My daughter attended Downhall Under Fives when it was situated at the Scout Hut and I cannot remember there ever being a problem with the parking. My son now attends the pre school and I would be walking him to the Scout Hut location after I have dropped my eldest at Downhall Primary School – like many others who attend.

    Both of my children settled very quickly at this pre school and have benefitted extremely from attending Downhall Under Fives. I think the staff and the school do an excellent job and made the transmission from pre school to reception class at Downhall Primary School for my daughter no problem at all. It would be a great shame to lose this excellent pre school and it would be lovely to bring it back into Rayleigh so that even more people can benefit from this pre school. The people on the committee and staff for the pre school have worked so hard in getting where they are today in the hope that they will return to the Ferndale site. It would be a real disappointment to have planning permission refused on the basis that it is on a green belt site and because of the parking – especially seeing that this site was used for nearly 20 years as a pre school. The use of the building is not changing from what it was then so why should there be such a problem now!

  60. 60

    I have only lived in this area for almost 2 years and am amazed that Rochford DC is recommending refusal for this development. I have no knowledge of Downhall Under 5s but reading the comments from those who know, and love, this organisation, one can only have the highest regards for them. Please, everyone, who have connection with this worthwhile community orgaisation, contact Rochford DC immediately, and especially before the meeting tomorrow, with their approval, because the council not only takes note of objections but more with public approval of the application.

  61. 61
    Geoff & Suzanne:

    We totally and wholeheartedly SUPPORT Downhall Under Fives preschool and their bid to move back to the site where they sucessfully ran the preschool for 19 years in Ferndale Road.

    The alternative is a shame and a sham.

    The little people of the future lose out, the winners as ever always appear to have the deepest pockets.

  62. 62
    Pete G:

    I am very disappointed that the Council have been so very narrow minded in failing to support this application.

    The objections are ridiculous and the fact that this is a part of our community trying to improve our community has been entirely overlooked.

    very saddening indeed.

  63. 63
    Steve Fisher:

    I support the planning application from Downhall Under Fives. It would provide a much needed service and benefit to those who will be the future of our community.

  64. 64
    Rawreth Lane Residient:

    Out of interest, I’ve just found out that the tape was cut to open the 7th Rayleigh Scout Group HQ off Ferndale Road officially on the 5th March 1983. 25 years ago!!

  65. 65
    Julie Willis:

    It is such a shame that it has come to this. Downhall Under 5’s is a very good pre-school. We sent our daughter to a private nursery/pre-school and she did not learn half of what our son has learnt in the past 2 years that he has been at Downhall Under 5’s. I wish I knew of them then. Our son started just as the pre-school moved to the cricket pavillion temporarily. I walk every where I can and to drive the short distance was bearable. Then we had to relocate to Hullbridge which is more of a drive from where we live off Downhall Park Road, not only the expense of petrol but also the time it takes and the number of cars on the road. If the pre-school was on their old site of 19-20 years in Ferndale Road I would most definately, as like other mums that attend the pre-school now, would be walking. I’m sure if planning permission was put in for a housing estate or a supermarket there would be no objection, it would be accepted straight away. Do they not think what would happen to the staff and children that attend there now? Where would they all go, pre-schools are already full in Rayleigh. Aren’t we trying to encourage our children to walk rather then drive to school.

  66. 66
    Ian Jordan:

    To add a little background information I was a member of 7th Rayleigh scouts up to 1981, meeting at Downhall School and remember watching the Scout hut being craned into position.

    I think the hut was obtained by the Scout Leader, Tony Beaumont after it was used as a site canteen during the construction of the M25.

    The Scouts would have maintained the building. However, the Scout Troop has closed now.

  67. 67
    Jane Thomas:

    I think this is a case of the world gone mad. In the last 10 years approval has been granted in this area for numerous new housing estates and a supermarket, but we are expected to believe that, where that was acceptable, a dedicated pre school building will have a detrimental affect on the local enviroment.

    If the council are going to keep approving new housing in this area there needs to be a corresponding increase in facilities for the community, and that includes good quality local pre school provision (as well as other local amenities and services, which the council also dont seem bothered about).

    Thought should have been given to the amount of open space in the area before the park site was redeveloped, including the new Asda – I am sure that far more “open space” was given up with that deal than will be by this proposed pre school development.

    As for the parking issue, again, this didnt seem to be a consideration when the Park site redevelopment was approved, as anyone who has tried to visit the redeveloped site at school drop off and collection time can confirm. I think any future development would struggle to cause greater congestion and dangerous parking than you can find there.

  68. 68
    Zena Shean:

    I support the idea of having the Down Hall under 5’s at the Old Scout Hut site. It is a venue that should be replaced and then perhaps other local groups can use it as well.

  69. 69
    Shane & Carolyn:

    Both our kids attended Downhall Under 5’s and thoroughly enjoyed their time there.

    We can not believe that the Council would even consider refusing planning permission – the objections are quite frankly outrageous!

    Come on Councillors – you know what to do.

  70. 70
    Andy Thurogood:

    Anything that doesn’t allow young children to be looked after and supported is frankly shameful.

    I hope the council can see that this ludicrous situation does not continue any longer.

    Sort this out immediately, for the good of the community and the youngsters from the area.

  71. 71
    7 Things About onlineFOCUS « onlineFOCUS – News and Stuff For Rochford District since 2003:

    […] also tell you when council meetings go well – for example with Downhall Under Fives, and when they go badly , for example with the road design of Priory […]

Leave a Reply

eight + 6 =

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.

Choose the layout you want to see

April 2015
« Mar    

Who We Are

We are Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners in Rochford District.
We want to improve local decision-making and we see onlineFOCUS as a good way of keep residents informed and involved.
Please click here to email us .

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments, they are very important to us. However please note:
* We may not necessarily agree with the comments made by our readers
* We ask everyone to treat people with respect when making a comment. No personal abuse please.

Daily Reporting by Chris Black

With support from:
Ron Oatham Ron Oatham Bruce Smart Bruce Smart Chris Stanley Chris Stanley

Latest Comments

  • Ruth Keetch: I love Rayleigh Mount…jus t taken my 7 yr old son there and told him that this “used to be...
  • Oz the Positive: A little bit of light relief, how about from the High Street down Crown Hill to Rayleigh...
  • admin: Hi Jim, yes I saw that and was going to link to it today. Will do so later on after Ron and I done our...
  • Jim Cripps: The Echo has been running a piece on the recent ( recurring ) local Highway problems for the last week or...
  • admin: Good point Geoff, as you know we reported it in February, I will make a phone call on Monday…
  • Geoff: If there is any paint left any chance of marking the junction at Harbets Way/ Downhall Park Way ?, I will send...
  • Oz the Positive: Folks, as we all just can’t get enough of the election this is a useful site ( from the BBC )...
  • Ron Oatham: The email detailing the changes went to Rawreth Parish council, not Rayleigh Town Council and to Stephen...
  • Ron Oatham: I note the bit about “maximisi ng the efficient use of brownfield opportunities&# 8221; Is that why...
  • Jim Cripps: This seems at odds with the Royal Town Planning Institute’ ;s rose coloured view in the item listed...
  • Chris Black: Oz, I’m grateful for your concern, but things are OK. Besides – and this shows that some...
  • Oz the Caring...: Chris, I can only echo James’s post @ 13. I have not met anybody that does not value the work...
  • Christine Paine: If they are among the best I hate to think what he worst are like
  • Jim Cripps: A truly stunning manipulation of the facts – you have to admire their ability to talk it up and get...
  • James Newport: Chris, you’re an excellent councillor and have my upmost respect, but seriously save your money...
  • James Newport: It’s not April fools is it?
  • admin: :)
  • Steve Tellis: I would certainly agree that Kingley Wood and adjacent parkland is a beautiful open leisure area. There...
  • Jim Cripps: Admin – I assure you it has’nt been forgotten , we have four teams of three people , each...
  • John Mason: RAG have a large team of residents working on the four main reasons for refusal just in case that The...
  • Chris Black: It’s important that we don’t forget about this appeal just because there’s an election...
  • Chris Black: Christine, I’m not sure how one defines ‘serious& #8217; here. Certainly Mike is capable of...
  • Oz the Positive: I think we can all safely say Pitt the Invisible will not be moving any time soon….
  • admin: Christine, yes if Mike overturned Mark Francois’ 22,338 majority at the last election and won he would...
  • Christine Paine: NHS should free at point of use for all British citizens. If others need medical...
  • Jim Cripps: Not living in the constituency is not that unusual for MP’s ( neither the Labour or Green...
  • Oz the Positive: Admin, depends if you have paid in or not…..alt hough what that’s got to do with Pitt...
  • admin: Meanwhile Oz do you agree that NHS services should be free at the point of use? (apart from prescription...
  • admin: Candidates can either show their full address or show the constituency. I don’t know of any particular...
  • Oz the Positive: Admin, do you know why other candidates addresses are, quite correctly, listed on the electoral web...

Recent Posts

Lib Dem logo
Legal Statement for the purposes of complying with electoral law: This website is published and promoted by Stephen Tellis at 22 Beech Av, Rayleigh, SS6 8AE on behalf of Liberal Democrat Candidates all at c/o 22 Beech Av, Rayleigh The technology and hosting used for this website is provided by 1&1 Internet Limited, The Nova Building, Herschel Street Slough SL1 1XS

Technical Help : Graham Osborn

Posts To Remember



Asda or Makro Council Budget Council Drama Crime & Policing District Core Strategy District Wide Elections Essex & East Future Housing Green Belt Highways & Parking History and Culture Hockley Hullbridge Leisure and Sport Liberal Democrats Local Democracy Local Facilities National Politics No Category Planning Applications Rawreth Rayleigh Rochford Web Stuff YouTube and Video


There's lots of information on the District Council website about the planning application "North of London Road ". To see it , just click here.

The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

Reporting A Problem

If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

Food Hygiene Ratings

To find the food hygiene rating for eating places and other businesses in our district , click here.

Essex Political Blogs

Geography, History , Science

Lib Dem Websites

Local Council Websites

Local History

Local Info

Non-Political Stuff

Other Lib Dem Blogs

Planning Issues

Join Your Local Team

If you read onlineFOCUS for a while you can see the kind of things we are trying to achieve locally. Maybe you would like to help us?

If you fancy helping us deliver leaflets, or actively campaigning for us at election time, or simply just helping behind the scenes with paperwork, please contact the onlineFOCUS team here.

“Rayleigh was the birthplace of Britain’s first surviving quintuplets, but that’s just one of its many claims to fame”

When the Olympic Torch came to Rayleigh, Chris Black wrote about the town in the Guardian - read it here

Join the National Team

If you would like email updates on what the Lib Dems are doing nationally, click here.
If you would like to join the Lib Dems click here.